The 16S rRNA gene in the study of marine microbial communities

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Fabiola Valenzuela-González
Ramón Casillas-Hernández
Enrique Villalpando
Francisco Vargas-Albores


New sequencing technologies and analytical capabilities have stimulated the study of microbial communities from specific environments, enabling researchers to understand the complexity of those systems. The 16S rRNA gene has proved very useful in describing the diversity and characterization of marine microbial communities, particularly of uncultivated organisms. The development of new sequencing techniques has contributed to the exponential increase in the number of reported 16S rRNA sequences as barcodes for microorganisms, forcing a review of concepts and methods for the taxonomic classification of these organisms. Manipulation and analysis of large amounts of genetic information have prompted the development of specific databases, specialized algorithms, and computational tools to compare thousands of such sequences and make a taxonomic assignment. Complete 16S rRNA sequences are thus needed for accurate and reproducible taxonomy assignment in the study of marine bacterial communities. 


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Valenzuela-González, F., Casillas-Hernández, R., Villalpando, E., & Vargas-Albores, F. (2015). The 16S rRNA gene in the study of marine microbial communities. Ciencias Marinas, 41(4), 297–313.
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